If you still think Twitter is for celebrities and “Breaking Bad” spoilers, you’re not paying close enough attention.
Today at 3:35 PM ET, as observers eagerly awaited a press conference from President Obama, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani revealed on Twitter the very historic news that Obama had called journalists together to share: That the two men had shared a phone call, the first direct communication between an Iranian and American president since 1979.
He didn’t even include a “SPOILER ALERT.”
Rouhani, or whoever handles the account, quickly deleted the tweet, but it was too late. BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski captured the tweet in a screenshot seen round the world.
In addition to revealing that the phone call took place, Rouhani shared a few other details about the conversation, including that Obama ended the phone by saying, “Khodahafez,” a friendly goodbye in Farsi according to the Washington Post.
Some of the more techtopian observers might look at this and say, “Hey, heads of state are spoiling Obama’s own press conferences. What do you need the press for anymore?” Well, we still need journalists. We just may not need them to sit in a room and write down what heads of state say. That may upset those worried about the future of the journalism business, but what it really does is free up journalists to uncover the things powerful people don’t want shared on Twitter.
This will be undoubtedly seen as a big disruptive moment by social media thinkfluencers. But a tweeting Iranian president doesn’t wipe away the inequities in his country. After Twitter CEO Dick Costolo called Rouhani’s tweets “fascinating,” TIME’s Sam Gustin tweeted, “Hey @dickc, have you asked @HassanRouhani why he doesn’t allow his own citizens to use Twitter?”
(Earlier this month, Iran reinstated a four-year ban on Twitter and Facebook)
Despite the democratizing force of Twitter seen during events like the Egyptian revolution, it’s turning into a media platform like any other, where the loudest and most powerful voices drive the conversation (Rouhani’s lucky Kanye didn’t decide to go on another Twitter rant this afternoon, or else his tweet may have been lost in the ether). Nonetheless, Rouhani’s tweet helps usher in a brave new world of diplomacy, and politicians should adjust their strategy accordingly. Maybe next time Obama will be the one to tweet first.
[Image Credit: WikiMedia]